John Herrington, an enrolled Chickasaw citizen, became the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to fly in space. He was selected for the program by NASA in 1996, one of 2,500 candidates to apply for just 35 astronaut positions. After training, Herrington was selected as a Mission Specialist for Endeavour, the sixteenth Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station. Endeavour launched from Kennedy Space Center on November 23, 2002 to deliver the PI Truss segment, which provides structural support for the Space Station radiators. Endeavour also delivered a new Expedition 6 crew to the Station and returned to Earth on December 7, 2002 with the Expedition 5 crew ending their 6-month stay in space. The total mission duration was 13 days, 18 hours and 47 minutes. During the mission, Herrington performed three spacewalks, totaling 19 hours and 55 minutes.
Herrington, born in the small town of Wetumka, Oklahoma, honored his Chickasaw heritage by taking aloft the Chickasaw Nation flag and an eagle feather as a symbol of strength.